Letters to the editor, May 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Time to stand up against predatory equity

On Friday, June 13, after CWCapital forecloses on the mezzanine (junior) debt for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, there is a very real threat that Fortress, the parent company of CWCapital, could use a questionable contract clause to instantly become the owner of our two complexes.

What happens on that day will affect us all. It could be Tishman Speyer redux. The financial press is speculating, full of scenarios providing detailed financial road maps to our demise.

Fortress is seeking to bid $4.7 billion for a property valued at $3.2 billion. Possibly adding nearly 50 percent more debt to the property in ​yet another overleveraged buyout will lead to problems for every one of us. These problems will assuredly be worse than what we have faced since 2006.

A show of our strength starts at 10 a.m. on June 13, when members of our community will assemble at City Hall to demonstrate our backing of the elected representatives who right now are working to try to save us from a predatory takeover. Let’s show Mayor de Blasio that we are a community worth saving, and show the hedge funds and real estate moguls that we are a community to be reckoned with. It’s worth making a serious effort to swell the group that will be bused to City Hall and back.
The two core groups that make up our community must stay united.

The first group — the young families and responsible singles and couples — I like to call the “New Stabilizers.”

The New Stabilizers have held on, many by their fingernails, so they can convert their high rents into more affordable long-term equity as apartment owners. Members of this group are the most vulnerable to losing their homes via exorbitant rent increases. The point will come when large numbers of New Stabilizers will be driven from a community that has suited their needs. More instability for everyone.

It’s heartbreaking that New Stabilizers will have to uproot their children from our fantastic local schools that I and others here got the opportunity to go to. These parents will have the painful task of explaining to their kids why they have to make new friends as they are forced to find another home. For this group, a takeover by anyone other than the tenants is their tipping point.

The second group — long-term traditionally rent-stabilized tenants — has a target on their backs too. They’re not as easy to hit, but a predatory owner will try, using the same tactics so ferociously applied by Tishman Speyer to challenge the legality of tenants’ stabilized status. Demolition of buildings is also a possible — and perfectly lawful — means for eviction. Tearing down our aging structures and “developing” our green spaces with shiny new towers is one sure way to pay down the debt.

For all of us, a tenant-led purchase is the only defense against a new predatory landlord. If you’re a long-term rent-stabilized tenant, you’ll be able to stay in your home and enjoy the same rent-stabilized protections you’ve always had with neighbors as your owners rather than hedge funds or dynastic New York real estate families.

For all of us, a new predatory landlord means more bad leasing policies that expand the number of “converted” apartments, which create higher concentrations of roommates in dorm-like occupancy, accompanied by more of the inevitable noise and bad neighbor behavior.

Churn, transients and predatory speculation are the problems. The answers are the young stabilizing families and responsible couples and singles vesting in their community and standing shoulder to shoulder with their longer-term neighbors who may wish to remain as renters living peacefully in their homes.

We all share the desire for our children and our neighbors’ children to grow up in the same safe, unique, extraordinary city setting many longer-term tenants have had. We need to carry on that tradition.

If ever there was a time to be vocal and visible, that time is now. If we just accept what might happen on June 13, we and our children will have to face the consequences.

Don’t let Friday, June 13, be the final chapter. Join us and fill the steps of City Hall to show the world we are organized and that we are a community, not a commodity. For more information about the rally and to RSVP for transportation, visit http://stpcvta.org/june13 or call (866) 290-9036.

John H. Marsh III,
Stuyvesant Town-
Peter Cooper Village
Tenants Association​

Answers on local effects of climate change

To the Editor:

I’d like to bring to the attention of our neighbors who were affected by Hurricane Sandy but who may still be questioning whether climate change is happening due to human continued use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas (methane) that the Sierra Club has some answers.

Their monthly meetings take place in the Seafarers & International House located at 123 East 15th Street on the northeast corner of Irving Place on the third Wednesday of the month. On May 21, I attended the third in their sustainability series called “Photovoltaics.” To my surprise and delight the first speaker was Chris Neidl recently back from India and at work again with Solar One. Chris was followed by Marlene Brown from the New Mexico Department of Energy. Both speakers answered many questions from the packed audience about solar energy for New York City.

Many of us remember how when Hurricane Sandy hit, the Solar One building in Stuyvesant Cove Park was the only place in our neighborhood that had electricity due to solar energy stored in its generator and people were coming to power their cell phones and medical apparatus. Solar One staff and volunteers brought solar panels and apparatus to the hard hit areas of the Rockaways and other coastal areas of NYC to help out.

On Wednesday, June 11, Solar One will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a boat trip from the East 23rd Street pier at 6 p.m. followed by a picnic supper and dancing under a big tent at the Cove until 10 p.m.  For more information and other events go to http://www.solar1.org.

The last in the Sierra Club Spring series takes place on Wednesday, June 18 on President Obama’s climate action plan with the Judith Enck, Head of Region 2 EPA (NY, NJ and Puerto Rico) as the speaker. There have been many ideas suggested for how hard hit coastal areas like ours can be protected from future storms. This would be a good time to ask our questions and hopefully get some answers. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for socializing and refreshments. Programs start at 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation; $3 for students.

Who knows? Maybe it’s a dream, but perhaps sometime in the future Stuyvesant Town could become an Eco Village and resilient.

Joy Garland, ST


4 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, May 29

  1. The Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village Tenant’s Association (“TA”) and related political backers are up in arms with news that our community may sell for more than $4.7 billion. They want the tenants of the community to stand arm-in-arm in a show of solidarity. In their words, the demonstration is an effort “to protect this community from predatory practices and ensure that the tenant plan is fairly considered”.

    I have issues with what the TA asks of me. First, I don’t really know what the tenant plan is. At every chance the TA has talked in such vague terms. But they continue to ask us to support “it” without knowledge. My opinion is that if the community knew the plan, the plan would lose our support because too few of our units would make financial sense to acquire/convert.

    Second, how does a conversion to condominium save our community? It seems to me any removal of housing stock from rent stabilization will have a negative effect. I want to own my unit. But, truthfully, buying my unit provides some certainty that I am the last tenant at this unit who will see any benefit of the rent stabilization law.

    Third, our elected political allies have made news of late with the intent to form committees to introduce legislation that will protect affordable housing from predatory investors with business plans that deplete affordable housing stock. There are several issues with this. Why has it taken these elected officials until two weeks prior to the mezzanine auction to come up with this idea to protect? It seems this should have happened years ago when time was on our side. I also cannot see how this type of legislation positively effects an increase on affordable housing stock. Its initial communication is about what the government will do to prohibit investment rather than what it will do to incentivize investment. Their words are filled with rallying phrases that warm our ears but, substantively, it’s just music without application. Their point should be, how can the government assist honest, ethical and morale real estate investors in protecting and expanding the affordable New York City housing stock? And how can the government ensure that the housing stock, that receives any incentive or benefit from the government, is then forever protected from a later, renewed effort at destabilization?

    Finally, I read the news our political allies are making. I review what I know about the TA plan, which is a conversion of rent stabilized housing to condominium, and wonder how ‘our’ plan is any different from the plans that our political allies are attempting to protect us. At the end of the day, it is the intent of the TA plan to reduce affordable housing stock, period. As a purist in the fight to save affordable housing, I have to vote against that plan. As a renter who would love to own my apartment, I’m a hypocrite. – Tenant in Stuyvesant town; living here since 2001.

  2. What a bunch of hypocrites the TA and it’s board are. “Predatory equity is bad but our guys are OK, cause we say so”. What? Are they kidding? Brookfield is one of the absolute worst predators around. Just how dumb does one have to be to listen to the TA at this point in time? They haven’t been a Tenants Association since around 2005 when Garodnick saw an opportunity to help his friends make a killing on PCVST and has used the TA to that end. Shame on them!

  3. Re: “Local Effects On Climate Change” by Joy Garlund

    My firrst encounter with this topic was Vice-President Albert Gore’s film and book “An Inconvenient Truth.” But, at the time, there was little manifest documentation that affected us. He predicted that the huge amount of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels emitted into the atmosphere since the indusrtial revolution would cause a raise in global tempertures. (Climate is not the same as weather; the former is the average tempertaure of the planet each year while weather deals with local conditions at the moment.)

    Was Gore correct? At the time it was far too soon to decide, But, during the last two decades, we have seen abberant conditions all over the planet: draughts, an excess of precipitation; heat that killed Europeans and Russians; horendous hurricanes (e.g.,Katrina and Sandy) killer tornado, fires in the Western U. S…. This not only affected lives — but less food poriduction and politics. Climatologists and other scientists concurred with Gore’s hypothesis.

    I began to write about this about three years ago and was responded to as being a “liar:and/or crazy.” After Sandy,I predicted more Sandys — each one more likely to be of greater magnitude. As the polar icecaps melt, the oceans rise leading to more moisture in the air. And areas contiguous to water would now have far deeper and more significant impact.

    In one of the 2012 Obama-Romney debates, the President was criticized for caring that the oceans were rising a few inches and Obama should care an increase in the number of jobs. An argument for an uniformed electorate. Ponder this analogy:the average human temperature is about 98F. Imagine if you had 104F — just six degrees higher — it’s time for the ER.

    Yes, there are many other problems of moment — be methinks that this one is the greatest because it affects the entire globe, Maybe not for you — but, for your kids and grand kids. What must be done now? Well, we should go back a few decades ago to begin. But, we can’t. ‘This situation will continue even if actions are taken now. The best we can do is to slow down the rate of accelearation — if possible.

    The real problems have been the conversion if a scientific situation to a political one… Where pols take monies from Big Energy via lobbyists… And during the past years, developments have moved relatively slowly. But, just read the newspaper or watch TV and you will determine the degree of accelaeration which is going on and it seems each day, new records for extremem climate change are being made,

    I am pessimistic and believe that it’s too late. But baseball great and philosopher Yogi Berra said, “It’s not over ’til it’s over!” The first step is to get rid of our use of ther defence mechanism of denial and do our best even though it is so many years too late.

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